I received this comment recently on a mailing list...
"Our experience over the years in the Caribbean is that solar panels work but only on boats which have minimal electrical requirements. Even the sailboats are running their engines to keep the refrigeration and freezer going once or twice a day. We had solar & wind on our sailboats so we do have lots of first hand experience with both.
We encounter sailboats with 4-6 panels and two wind generators who still run the diesel daily. That's a lot of space devoted to panels and a lot of noise 24/7 from the props."
So I'm looking for some real world experience with powering a boat's systems with solar & wind.
I'm planning on a little over 100 amps per day and was expecting to get most of that from 2 large panels and a wind gen. Not practical?
I have not read the complete list of responses, but have read donw the list far enough that it sparked my fire..
anything written can be skewed in whatever direction the author wants to lead you.... so reading one paragraph wont give you anymore information than is necessary to start/keep a rumor going.
IF there is problem with solar panels, its only in the way they are rated... the largest percentage of the people who consider them, take the numbers as advertised on the panels, and try to make it work for their needs without anymore education. they seem to believe their schooling is closed and they go forth with their idea... and as much as we try to give them what they will need, they listen to people who DO NOT UNDERSTAND the systems any better than they themselves do, and so they go forth with what they want to believe
and continue to install 1 or 2 small panels that have barely enough power to supply the needs in the best circumstances, and NOTHING left over for when a bit more power needs to be used, or for future needs. (and then bad mouth the system for not being adequate)
these people who have no idea how panels are rated, or what the rating means (and there is a LOT more of this type around than one wants to believe), they ignorantly claim big panels are overkill, and god forbid that someone should spend a couple hundred dollars more for an overkill of charging capability.
but there may be some validity in what they claim if you dont have a big enough battery bank to make use of the capability.. one has to remember the bank IS part of the system and has to be sized accordingly.
solar is absolutely a great source of power, and the available output it only limited to the space one has to install more panels... but it must be understand that some people's power requirements on their boat (or elsewhere) are completely unreasonable because they feel no need to conserve. these people will not be happy with solar, and will be on the side of the naysayers..
(2) 140-160watt panels will easily supply the needs of most medium sized NON-luxury boats with a refridgerator
where ever there is daylight for at least 6 hours a day...
this is NOT true of boats that have washers/dryers, satellite tvs , A/C units and other assorted unnecessary power consuming items, that are considered luxury items by most of us...
when a solar set up is properly sized and installed on a boat (or anywhere else), it is almost always maintenance and trouble free for many many years... there is no other system on the boat that will work every single day and be as dependable for so many years without touching it, or that will give back as much, as what the power producing solar panels will.
a properly installed solar charging system should last 20+ years if the batteries are maintained properly.... and replaced as needed, which will be less often than with any other charging system.